Audax bikes are typified by their mudguards, since the Audax governing body used to demand all bikes be fitted with ‘guards for riding their events. But increasingly such bikes are being sought by not just those riders with an interest in organised long distance events, but for so much more.
No, versatility is the key with bikes like these. Riding to work, pootling around country lanes, early season sportives, a year-round bike, touring, one bike for all your riding, these Audax tagged bikes are just the bike for the job. With mudguards you’ll be better-protected from the elements, the ride will be comfortable and there’s the option of carrying luggage on a rear rack too.
Titanium is a natural choice for Audax bikes, where comfort over long distance is the main concern. The material’s velvety ride and ability to soak up smaller road ripples make despatching such long rides infinitely more comfortable than aboard a race bike, with the longer wheelbase, taller headtube and relaxed angles making them a dream to cycle.
Dorset-based Zerofour specialise in producing custom made-to-measure frames in both race and Audax guises. The Evolution Audax here uses a 3AL/2.5V titanium frame with CNC machined head tube, bottom bracket shell and dropouts. The chainstays are slightly longer and there’s increased clearance for mudguards and fatter tyres. There’s mounts for a rack too.
Buying a frame or complete bike from Zerofour begins with a two-hour fit session where the all the dimensions needed to get your new bike perfectly fitted are measured. Every detail of the frame will be tailored, down to every tube length and tube diameter. During the process you’ll be offered a choice of decals, and once you’re completely happy your design will be sent to their factory in the Far East and, after a short wait of around seven weeks, your new frame will be ready.
We didn’t go through the fitting session and had to make do with a stock 56cm test bike. Suffice to say, the bike fitted like a glove and it allowed us a chance to sample just what Zerofour are offering. After several months of riding, there isn’t one thing, except perhaps the decals, that I’d look to change if I was going to have one personally fitted.
What it did allow us to witness is just how well designed and how exceptionally brilliantly the frame is finished. All the welds are undeniably smooth and there’s clearly nothing to fault about the manufacture. All the little details custom to Zerofour are perfect in their execution.
It’s reasonable to expect a decent ride from a titanium bike, at least judging on the previous titanium bikes RCUK has tested, and the Zerofour was no disappointment. In fact, it was a dream to ride, and proved a comfortable companion on long winter rides, the frame smoothing out all but the worst of the Surrey and Kent roads that make up RCUK’s test routes.
As comfortable as it is, it’s still sporting and very willing to push on at speed if you so desire. This was backed up by the impeccable handling and responsiveness of the steering. So from plodding along sunny country lanes to blatting through London’s traffic infested streets getting to work, it was equally at home. The other advantage of titanium is the competitive weight of the frame, which made hilly riding easier than it really should be.
A frame like this, including a two-hour fit session and custom etched graphics, will set you back £999 – which seems competitively priced to us. This test bike, fitted with an ITM 4Ever Carbon fork and built with a full Shimano Ultegra SL groupset, superb Easton EA70 wheels and Easton bars, stem and seatpost, would cost £2325. It’s worth taking a look at the website as there’s a comprehensive list of build options where you can spec and see the total price for your dream build.